For Sylvia looking after her mum after she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease was the start of a “mentally and physically draining” journey – but one that has proved to be the catalyst for a life-changing confidence boost.

Sylvia first started caring for her mum in 2014 and helped her overcome the challenges of leaving her seaside home in Great Yarmouth to be closer to her family.

“It was a difficult transition for her. None of us knew what the future held for her, or us as a family, after her diagnosis” she said.

Sylvia, who has two children, wasn’t working at the time so became her mum’s main carer, giving her the attention and care she needed.

“Initially, I took on board the physical care and that put a huge strain on my family at home. At the time, my two were aged 10 and 18 and they needed their mum. But I was pulled elsewhere, helping my mum.

“I was doing the school run and then going straight round to mum’s to do all her personal care. I was sorting her medication, her shopping and getting her physically out of the house.

“The work load was completely consuming and it definitely took its toll. I wasn’t eating regularly and was constantly exhausted, trying to juggle the right balance between looking after my own family and doing the right thing for my mum.

Sylvia Johnson-Davis is feeling positive about the future since getting help with her role as a carer

“Eventually, I realised I couldn’t be Superwoman. I was spreading myself too thinly and getting myself stressed out.”

With support from my family, Sylvia decided to get her mum assessed by a Social Worker and reduced the time she was spending caring for her, with her siblings pitching in to help out.

She was invited to a TimeBank session – a programme delivered by Forward Carers and funded by Ageing Better in Birmingham – where she discussed her needs as a carer with other people who found themselves in the same boat. She also attended a three-day residential, organised by Dementia Carers Count, which provided “invaluable support” to her.

Sharing her experiences allowed Sylvia to talk about the situation with her family and she was able to get more help, rather than trying to do everything herself.

“Once I’d got my health back on track and I’d built my self-confidence back up, I decided I would return to my training as a mental health nurse” she added. “This meant I couldn’t give mum all my attention, at all times of the day but seeing her stable made me feel more comfortable.

“You definitely need to seek support. That’s fundamental in ensuring you maintain good overall well-being. Don’t leave it and let it get to breaking point. Make the most of the  support systems out there and don’t feel guilty for looking after for yourself.”

To find out more, or if you would like to share your story as part of this campaign, please get in touch

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